Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


March 22, 2014

Cellphone policy: New Tazewell rules make sense

— — Love them or hate them, cellphones are now a part of our daily lives. We take them with us everywhere we go. We use them to communicate, text and surf the Internet. Some families have opted to use only cellphones as opposed to traditional landlines. And as most parents can attest, attempting to separate a teenager from his or her cellphone is no easy task.

But a new cell phone policy recently launched by the Tazewell County School Board seeks to find a happy medium when it comes to kids and their cellphones. The policy appears to be a good idea, but it is one that will have to be carefully monitored.

The school system’s old cell phone policy only allowed students to bring a cell phone on school property. However, they were then required to store the cell phone either in their locker or a personal vehicle during the instructional day. As one might imagine, some teens didn’t like the idea of spending that much time away from their cellphones. And some parents also wanted to have the ability to contact their child during the course of the school day if needed.

However, a careful balance must be found. Because a teen with a cell phone inside of a classroom could easily become distracted and spend more time texting friends than paying attention to the classroom lesson.

The school system’s new cell phone policy will allow students to carry their phones with them throughout the day — but does set restrictions on when they can and can’t use them.

According to Tazewell County Secondary Supervisor George Brown, students will be allowed to use cellphones in the morning before classes begin, at lunch, during breaks, between classes and after dismissal from the final class. Students also may be allowed to use their cellphone during instructional time for educational purposes, but only when the teacher allows usage.

According to the new policy, there will be discipline for students caught using a cell phone in violation of the policy and middle school and high school students must have a signed parental consent form on file in the administrative office.

“The response to the change is that we are hoping this will allow students to access things they enjoy and also promote education,” Brown said. “Cellphones have become such an important part of everyday lives.”

Brown is correct. Most folks — teenagers included — are dependent upon their cell phones nowadays. That’s why the new policy does make sense in a lot of ways. But it will have to be carefully monitored by teachers and school administrators to ensure that students are following the new rules.

The new policy will remain in effect until the end of the current school year. At that time, the school board will revisit the policy and possibly renew it for the 2014-2015 school year. That, of course, would be contingent upon students complying with the new rules.


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